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help! double mats not going so well...

Kholroyd

Grumbler in Training
Joined
Oct 1, 2019
Messages
5
Hi all.
Hoping someone can tell me what I'm doing wrong, you know, without being able to actually see me doing it.
I'm cutting double mats and the reveal on the bottom mat is inconsistent. I want a 1/8" reveal but it's wider on the top than the bottom, and the bottom is narrower at one end than the other. (at least the sides seem to be ok). It's only out by less than 1/16" but I (eye :) ) can see it.
I cut the bottom mat 1/4" smaller than the top, taped the two together and cut the bottom opening using the drop-out from the top mat to support the cut.
I'm using an Ultimat Gold cutter.
Why is it off? I know my math is correct - checked it, double checked it, used a calculator to triple check it. (I have a fraction calculator on my iPhone so I'm pretty sure I read it correctly. (never say 'never', though)
Help!
 

Tom1234

Grumbler
Joined
Nov 23, 2017
Messages
19
It’s been a while since I’ve cut a double mat. See if this helps. The size of the art you are framing and the amount of border will vary. For example, let’s say you have decided that the top mat needs to be 12” x 10”. For the second mat, cut it 1/2” shorter all around (11 1/2” x 9 1/2”). For this example, your opening (with a 2“ border) will be 10 x 8 on your top mat. Before you cut the opening in the top mat, make a pencil mark several inches long on one side of the mat. After you cut the opening, make sure to line up the fallout with the pencil line. With the mat and the fallout properly positioned, place double sided tape on the fallout ONLY (I make an X with my tape gun). Then place the second mat on the first mat. Remember, you have 1/2” to work with; you don’t have to place the second mat perfectly. Then cut the second opening in the second mat at whatever reveal you want (I use 1/4”). When you remove the mats from your mat cutter, both opening should fall out together and you should have a perfect 1/4“ reveal. Hope this helps. And if anyone knows a better way, please post as I will try that method too.
 

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
Joined
May 19, 2000
Messages
18,010
Just to be clear, you should cut the top mat first. Then, put the fallout back in and glue the undersized bottom-mat blank to the back of the top mat. If you are using the mat guide, set your stops for the proper reveal. Or, if you are cutting by sight, mark the bottom mat's cut-lines carefully using the outer perimeter of the top mat.

By either of these procedures, you would cut both mat layers' windows from the same perimeter edges, so the reveal margins of the under-mat(s) should be equal on all sides. If not, then could something be slipping during your cutting motions? Is your matcutter's sliding head properly adjusted and suitably tight?
 

wvframer

RIP
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Messages
1,964
From the description, it seems like something is slipping. A wobbly head can cause a variation of 1/6 inch, but you can overcome that with a steady, or at least consistent stroke. It is more likely that the mats are slipping in the cutter. If there has been a change in the weather, it can affect the moisture content of the matboard as well as the holding power of ATG.

If you have been successfully cutting double mats before and suddenly they are off, the likely culprit is some change in the tool.

If you are just learning to cut these, take a bunch of scrap and cut 50-100 small mats until you get a good feel for it. Many of these will be good enough to use, and some not so much. But after that many, if you study each one as you finish, you will have a very good feel for the matcutter and almost unconsciously make adjustments for any wear or weaknesses.

Don't hesitate to come back if none of our ideas help!
 

Larry Peterson

PFG, Picture Framing God
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Messages
8,576
The thing I don't understand is why there is any math involved at all. I don't use math when I do a double mat. Here is how I do it. Dimensions used are for an 8x10 photo with 2" mat reveal and a 1/4" inner mat reveal. Alllow for 1/4" of the photo to be covered (1/8" on each side) The only math is determining the size of the mat blank which will be 8+4-1/4" = 11 3/4" and 10+4-1/4" = 13 3/4".

1. Cut the top mat blank to size. 11 3/4 x 13 3/4"
2. Cut the bottom mat blank a little smaller than the top. Measurements aren't required if you set your production stops on the wall cutter for the top mat black and just cut it a tad smaller.
3. Set your mat cutter side margin to 1 3/4" and your top and bottom stops to 1 3/4"
4. Mark a line on the back of the top mat that will overlap the cut so you will know how the cutout aligns.
5. Cut the top mat.
6. ATG or glue the bottom mat to the top as well as the top mat dropout. ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE. The bottom mat cannot go over any of the edges of the top mat. If it does, you mat will be hosed.
7. Reset the side margin and top/bottom stops to 2".
8. Cut the bottom mat.

If you followed all of these and there is no physical problem with your mat cutter, it is impossible for the mat margins to be different.

BTW, to me a 1/8" reveal is so 80s.
 
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wvframer

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Larry, that is one of the best descriptions I have ever read.

Not everyone has stops, but I did it for years on my old Keaton Matcutter just marking them with pencil. Took some time to learn to avoid overcuts, but if the blade placement was consistent, I could cut all week without a mistake.

Cut the top mat, move the measuring guide, glue down the fallout and the bottom mat, then mark the bottom mat. Cut the bottom mat and you are done.

I recently had some of those early mats from 20+ years come back for updated colors. They looked as good as anything I cut now on a CMC.
 

neilframer

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Jan 27, 2010
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8,079
Larry, that is one of the best descriptions I have ever read.

Not everyone has stops, but I did it for years on my old Keaton Matcutter just marking them with pencil. Took some time to learn to avoid overcuts, but if the blade placement was consistent, I could cut all week without a mistake.

Cut the top mat, move the measuring guide, glue down the fallout and the bottom mat, then mark the bottom mat. Cut the bottom mat and you are done.

I recently had some of those early mats from 20+ years come back for updated colors. They looked as good as anything I cut now on a CMC.
I also cut mats the exact same way for over 30 years before I used a Wizard for the last 15 years.
My first mat cutter was a Keeton and I used a hand scribe with a pencil lead in it to mark the mats before I even had a Pohlmer mat gauge.
(Wally has my old Keeton and Pohlmer gauge now..)
il_570xN.892909901_30bg.jpg
Used a 1/4" reveal on the inside mat most of the time back then but we usually use 3/16" reveal now.
 
Last edited:

nikodeumus

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
699
I want a 1/8" reveal but it's wider on the top than the bottom, and the bottom is narrower at one end than the other.
This makes me think that the opening isn't square, but rather skewed or lopsided.
Do you have a square to check that?
It could mean that the rail the cutter head is on isn't aligned parallel with the fence or guide that the mat edge is resting on?
 

nikodeumus

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
699
This makes me think that the opening isn't square, but rather skewed or lopsided.
Do you have a square to check that?
It could mean that the rail the cutter head is on isn't aligned parallel with the fence or guide that the mat edge is resting on?
If this were the problem both top and bottom mat openings could be out a bit, but when stacked together the difference is even more noticeable.

To reiterate someone else's post above (because I have done this wrong myself ): Be certain you are setting the stop guides on the top mat edges (on the bottom when upside down under the cutter) when making the second drop-out cut. When I first started using the stop guides I didn't realize this for the first half dozen attempts. :rolleyes:
 

Pat Murphey

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Joined
Nov 16, 2002
Messages
13,680
I always cut out blanks for double mats together (on top of one another) in my wall cutter, and put a pencil line on the back to maintain orientation of the identical blanks. No worries about consistent reveal and solid support for points when fitting. Easy peasy!
 
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prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Joined
Jul 16, 2007
Messages
19,279
The first thing that you should check is whether the cutter bar and guide bar are exactly parallel.
1/8" is a small reveal and the narrower the reveal, the more any variations will show.
I'll work in metric.....
If an 10mm reveal runs off to 11mm you probably won't notice. A 3mm reveal running to 4mm will
visually leap out. If the bars are not perfectly parallel then you will not cut a good double mount.

The longer the cut, the more the divergence will be apparent. Check it by cutting a piece (long) of scrap
and measure it at both ends. If there is any difference then your guide bar has gone out of true. 😉
 
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